As I write this, Christmas is just starting to appear in the rear view mirror – New Year’s is straight ahead. How did your holiday season go? Boy, we all have stories from that, don’t we?
Mine was definitely a mixed bag. Some very tearful times as this was my first Christmas at home without Dale. And yet some times of blessing, too, with friends and family.
But this post is not about the holidays. I’m moving on from those pretty quickly. Grateful to have survived! I want to share a revelation, of sorts, that I had while reading one of my daily devotions in ‘Streams in the Desert” this past week.
This particular one was encouraging the reader with the promise that God is always by our side no matter what we might be feeling. The author asked the questions, “Do you feel like God has turned His back on you? Do you feel unloved by God? Does it seem like He doesn’t care about what you’re going through? Do you feel forsaken by Him?”
I could honestly, and gratefully, answer, “No, I do NOT feel like that!” Despite the great sorrow and loss of this past year – and other difficult times in my life – I do not doubt God’s love for me. I rest fully in the promises I find in His Word. They are what sustain me in my darkest moments. And for that, I am eternally grateful to God.
Because, ultimately, He is the one who has blessed me with that faith. It’s nothing that I’ve conjured up out of my own strength. It is something that He has mercifully bestowed upon me. Oh sure, it definitely helps that I have sat under solid biblical teaching for years. And that helped me get my theology (what I believe about God) in place before the deepest trials hit.
But I can take no credit for it. If you find yourself answering, “Yes” to any of those questions posed earlier, I do have some encouragement for you.
I have to take you to another Christian holiday to illustrate my point. Fast forward to Easter, or more accurately, Good Friday. If you’ve ever read the excruciating details of what Jesus physically suffered through the scourging and eventual death by crucifixion, you know that it’s about as bad as anything can get.
But an even deeper suffering that Christ endured was evidenced by His words on the cross that fateful day; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When Jesus took the weight and the penalty of our sins on that cross, God DID forsake him while that penalty was being paid. This article from the Desiring God website does a great job of fleshing that out a bit, if you’re interested in more depth.
But back to the devotional. As I read the comforting words about God never forsaking us, I realized it was BECAUSE Jesus was forsaken on that cross, that I don’t need to feel alone in this life. I may be suffering from many other sources of sorrow, but I don’t have THAT sorrow.
He paved the way for us to have unbroken fellowship with God forever, if we confess our sins and ask Him to be Lord of our lives. He has already done the heavy lifting.
So, when you start to question whether God loves you or would ever forsake you, be reminded of the great lengths and depths Jesus went to so that you could be spared that kind of sorrow. Please don’t take it lightly. He wants us to fully trust His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. It’s not just a simple platitude; it’s a truth borne out of Jesus’ suffering on our behalf.
Now there’s a Christmas/Good Friday gift that we can all be grateful for! May you know that truth as you finish out 2018 and head into a new year.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.